Pumpkin Carving

I’ve made many jack-o-lanterns out of real pumpkins.  This time I tried out carving a fake one, thinking it would be just the same.  It is in some ways, but the material in fake pumpkins is harder than real ones.  Cutting the hard, hollow pumpkin is more akin to carving wood. The consistency is a blend of foam and smooth plastic.  I had thought it was going to be more like the squishiness of stress balls.

Exacto knives are not going to cut it (har har). You can slice the surface with small scalpel blades, but for actual cutting, you will need a very sturdy box cutter or wood carving knife.  I found it very hard to shape the cuts, they wanted to go in straight lines.  Small cuts  were also very difficult due to the tools I had.  I did have small saws from a pumpkin carving kit, but they only work after a piece has been cut out.

Find a good stencil, there are thousands online to choose from, and tape the stencil on your pumpkin. Use a pin to punch holes along your design lines, then take off the stencil.  The pinpricks will be faint, and hardly noticeable if you decide to slightly change the lines.

The pumpkin left something like sawdust on everything.  To clean out the inside of your work, you could use canned air.

When your work is done, toss in a fake candle (real candles are a bad idea). While this was fun, I think I want to go back to real pumpkins, and not just because I love roasted pumpkin seeds.




October 27, 2013

Fun Sci-fi party ideas

My friends put together a fun Sci-fi themed Halloween party.  (Thanks for letting me share the ideas!)  They put a lot of work and creativity into the event.


Fish fingers and custard (from Doctor Who).  One of the “custards” was a delicious honey mustard sauce, but regular custard was available for the hardcore fans. My son had seconds.  Other offerings were klingon Gahk (spaghetti), Peeta’s cheese rolls, and Vulcan vegetable soup.  There were also “tribbles”, coconut covered cookies.

Fish fingers and custard


“Alien” fruit.  One of the guests stopped by an asian market and picked up several types of  unusual tropical fruit.  It looked like something straight out of a movie.

alien fruit


Star Trek cake- one of the episodes from Star Trek the next generation featured the character Deanna Troi as a cake in a dream sequence.

star trek Deanna Troi cake


Party games:

One of the games was “have you ever?”  Questions were called out and players moved ahead one space in a circle if they knew the answer.  The person went around the full circle won the game.  Questions/statements were things like “I have seen all episodes of Stargate Atlantis.” and “What are the names of two Doctor Who actors?”

My favorite game was “guess the starship.”  My friend made a poster covered with outlines of thirteen different space ships.  Players wrote down their  guesses and the person who guessed the most correctly won.

guess the spaceshipguess the spaceship poster


October 20, 2013

Home-made skeleton costume



  • glow-in-the-dark fabric paint (optional)
  • black thermal underwear your child’s size
  • sheets of white felt- (I used 5)
  • needle and thread, pins
  • For mask- white flannel, a piece of elastic, a small amount of pillow fluff, embroidery thread, needle and regular thread.

I was not able to find black footy pajamas, and buying a shirt and pants seemed expensive for something he will only wear once, so I was very happy to see the thermal underwear.  The disadvantage of this is that he can’t wear it over other clothes.

After laying it out, I was able to estimate what size the bones should be.  It was very tempting to try to make exact, anatomical bones, but it is much simpler to just go with a cartoonish style when cutting out felt!

Cut out the bones out of the sheets of white felt and pin in place on the thermal underwear.    Hand-sew them on.  Be sure to put something inside the clothes to avoid accidentally sewing all the way through ( I used a rolled up magazine for the arms and legs).

pin on felt bones


Outline the edges of the bones in the fabric paint and let it dry out of reach of meddling kids and their dog.

The mask was made by cutting out two pieces of white flannel (it was actually white with blue stars, but I used the plain side).  Cut the eye holes generously.  Sew it right sides together, leaving a side open.  Turn right side out and stuff lightly.  Sew the open side.  Sew a piece of elastic to go around the back of your child’s head (measure to fit).  I decided to decorate the mask in the style of Mexican Day of the Dead.  If you are looking for designs online, use the keywords calaveras and Dia De Los Muertos.  Anyone who has more experience with embroidery would have done a better job.  Another idea would be to sew or glue on decorations to the mask.

skull mask

October 28, 2012

I love halloween!  There are so many opportunities to be creative- costumes, decorations, food, and of course pumpkin carving.  I know some people who do the elaborate templates and spend hours whittling, cutting and shaping their creations, and I’m amazed and inspired by what can be created.  As you see above, I took my son’s design and went with it.  I also made a bat shape, which I will upload a picture of when I put a candle in on Halloween (if it hasn’t blown away in the storm!)  My daughter’s creation, below, reminds me of Japanese masks.  I think the yarn was a nice touch.

My friends had a fantasy-themed Halloween party this Saturday, mainly inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s Pern and Harry Potter.  We had roast wherry, klah, bubbly pies, chocolate frogs and butterbeer.   Yum!  The chocolate frogs were piped meringue cookies dipped in chocolate.  I need to find out the butterbeer recipe my friends made- it was divine and involved a scoop of ice cream.  Wow.  The costumes were spectacular as well- we had Doctor Who, River Song, Menolly, a demon-hunter, Mrs. Weasley, Sally from the Nightmare before Christmas, little red riding hood, the big bad wolf and um, a Robert Jordon Wheel of Time character whose name escapes me.  I know there’s a lot of creativity involved in other holidays, but those focus on gift giving, which leaves you open for trying to please another person.  Halloween is creativity for its own sake, and I think it’s grand.  Tell me about your parties and pumpkins!

bubbly pies from Pern

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